It's a funny old world. One minute you're a hero, 'going viral' on social media and being lauded across the BBC, for shouting "You ain't no Muslim, bruv" at Muhayadin Mire, the London Tube terrorist suspect; then next you are being tut-tutted at by exactly the same kind of people for making dodgy assumptions about Muslims.
Last night's The Papers on the BBC News Channel looked at this story (in The Sunday Times). Martine Croxall discussed it with former BBC sports editor Mihir Bose and writer Sunny Singh. Here's how their discussion went:
Martine Croxall: Let's look at a sort of connected story. It's on The Times. It's "Terror witness: You ain't no Muslim bruv - and nor am I". This...man who shouted this at Leytonstone tube station during the terror attack just a few days ago, he now fears for his life.
Mihir Bose: Yeah, it's a very interesting story. The Sunday Times has obviously spoken to him. We don't have full details. We only know he's called John and his age and that he worked as a security agent, and of course the statement he made resonated around the world. It showed London defiant. But what is very interesting is that he said that he actually didn't hear this man Muhayadin Mire, you know, the man who made the attack, he didn't actually hear him link it to Syria. He didn't even know that he was a Muslim but he assumed by looking at him that he was a Muslim! So that does raise another question as to why he thought he was a Muslim.
Martine Croxall: Yeah.
Mihir Bose: That's not in any way to devalue the statement he made, you know, 'You ain't no Muslim, bruv', but why should be immediately jump to the conclusion that he was a Muslim?! Because that again raises other questions...
Martine Croxall: Yes, of course.
Mihir Bose: ...about how we look at these things.
Throughout the latter part of this part of the discussion, BBC presenter Martine Croxall didn't exactly hide her feelings about it. At "he assumed by looking at him that he was a Muslim!" she began adopting a variety of shocked, flabbergasted and appalled expressions, and then very loudly and repeatedly sighing as well as shaking her head disapprovingly:
Sunny Singh then took up Mihir's complaint:
Sunny Singh: And the idea, you know, that in some ways that grey zone is being eliminated, you know, as Daesh..as ISIS has very nicely stated, you know, that this area, we are creating fear, we are buying into fear, we're buying into these assumptions. So, I mean, at one point he says, "He looked to be a terrorist", and I would love to know what that looks like!
Martine Croxall: So would I! If it was only that easy to spot!
Sunny Singh: It would make things so much easier.
And then they all laughed, rather missing the obvious point that the man didn't just "look like a terrorist".
They also missed the point that those "assumptions" made by the hero of 'You ain't no Muslim, bruv' (and by that they clearly meant his assumption that someone committing a terrorist attack on the Tube is likely to be a Muslim - despite what he went on to shout!) were actually borne out by the reality of what happened at Leytonstone tube station - and that, in this day and age, they are fair and reasonable "assumptions" to make in any such circumstances, however distasteful that may be to bien pensant people like Martine, Mihir and Sunny.
A very 'BBC' discussion.